Feeds

Can it be true? That I hold here, in my mortal hand, a nugget of PUREST ... BLACK?

Brit boffins stumble on wonder material while down the pub

Security for virtualized datacentres

British boffins have constructed a light-absorbing nano-material that could improve the accuracy and sensitivity of imaging and optics systems.

Researchers at Surrey NanoSystems say that their Vantablack material, built from carbon nanotubes, is capable of absorbing as much as 99.96 per cent of incident radiation to create a material that appears a far darker shade of black than any previously manufactured. Apparently, light enters the material, and is absorbed and converted to heat before it can escape.

Aside from being the envy of goths the world over, the Vantablack materials will have a number of practical uses. In areas such as targeting instruments, telescopes and optical calibration, the ability to coat objects in the low-reflection material will improve accuracy and sensitivity.

"Vantablack is a major breakthrough by UK industry in the application of nanotechnology to optical instrumentation," claimed Surrey NanoSystems CTO Ben Jensen.

"For example, it reduces stray-light, improving the ability of sensitive telescopes to see the faintest stars, and allows the use of smaller, lighter sources in space-borne black body calibration systems."

The Vantablack ... Credit: Surrey Nanoscience

Nanomaterial, or a rift in the temporal plane?

Surrey researchers believe that the lightweight material will be highly thermally conductive and can be applied to both flat and three dimensional surfaces. Intended markets could include spacecraft and aeronautics. The company said that it will be constructing the Vantablack material in house as well as working with third-party manufacturers.

"We are now scaling up production to meet the requirements of our first customers in the defence and space sectors, and have already delivered our first orders," Jensen said.

On how the material was created, he quipped to the Guardian: "We were in the research lab getting very frustrated. We raced down to the pub and had a lightbulb moment."

As manufacturing techniques become cheaper and more practical, researchers have been seeking to integrate carbon nanotube into various materials and applications. Recent uses for the technology include bullet-proof textiles and highly sensitive conductive sensors.

"This [Vantablack] is not a groundbreaking thing," sniffed professor George Stylios at the school of textiles and design at Heriot-Watt university to the Graun. "It's a progression of a group of scientists, of companies that try to manipulate materials to push the boundaries." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
Moment of truth for LOHAN's servos: Our US allies are poised for final test flight
Will Vulture 2 freeze at altitude? Edge Research Lab to find out
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.